Last week, comedian Kathy Griffin released a graphic photograph depicting herself holding the bloodied and decapitated head of Donald Trump shot by photographer Tyler Shields. The photo was released on Griffin’s instagram, with the caption “There was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his…wherever”, a play on the words said by Trump during his tirade against fox presenter Megyn Kelly earlier this year. Since being posted, the image has understandably caused a great deal of backlash towards Griffin. Not only has Donald Trump personally responded, saying that the image was affecting his son Barron, but people on all sides of the political spectrum have spoken out against this image, even including Hillary Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton. Griffin removed the image and issued an apology, saying that comedy often treads the line between what is acceptable and what is not, and that she regretted crossing that line. Despite the fact that an apology was issued, the controversy has caused CNN to break their contracts with her, and for Griffin to claim that the Trump White House was trying to target her due to the image, and that she would fight back.
What most people can agree on is that the gory image was an extreme idea that once taking form had the amount of backlash anticipated for such a gruesome image. It was an expression of Griffin's feelings towards Trump, and art is meant to be an expression. However, both sides of this photo debate hinge on the extreme, and it makes a statement about the severe political climate in America currently. On one hand, you have a President who is so wholly absorbed at personally attacking a comedian for her work that she is preparing a lawsuit against him- one who is emphasizing and dramatizing the effect the photo has. Do I think that Barron could have been affected by such an image? Yes. Do I think Trump is over exaggerating the realistic effect it had on his son, because him alone being offended has been used by his team one too many times to allow him the level of sympathy he wants to gain from this from the public? Yes. On the other side you have a comedian who, using freedom of speech, aimed to depict her dislike of the current President, but went about it in a fashion that was tacky and overly provocative.
But in America today, these extreme moves have become the norm. Everyone's views, including my own, are so set that there is no middle ground, no room for discussion. It makes real progress impossible, and causes anything that is to be deemed worthy of news to be extreme. If Griffin's image had not been so controversial, it would not have gotten enough press to make a statement. And if Trump's response had not been to demand the removal of her from professional posts and to attack her personal life, neither would the response. The situation mirrors the political system it was trying to critique- one that is too extreme to make a real point, but extreme enough to make the news.
Although I think the image was a step too far, I also think the backlash has been unproportionate to one step made by an already provocative comedian. But it does represent the extremism happening in our country, and I think it can shed some light on the inability we have in the current climate to make a solid point without adding the flare of the dramatic.